RE: Deconstruction of Deep Structure and other Improbabilities

From: Jim Beale (
Date: Sun May 25 1997 - 09:59:33 EDT

At 11:04 AM +0000 5/25/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:

>This is exactly what I was driving at when I said that invoking the
>term *deep structure* involves accepting a whole set of
>presuppositions. There are more presuppositions than the one stated
>above, but one is enough to illustrate the point. My reference to
>Augustine's Logos Doctrine was not being flippant. I think there is
>some kind of rationalism lurking in the term *deep structure.* Jim
>Beale has made this rationalism explicit in his statement quoted
>above. I'm sure he will respond by saying I haven't used the word
>rationalism correctly.
>If you don't accept Jim's restatement of Chomsky (early Chomsky?) then
>the term *deep structure* should be avoided.

I am not aware of any substantial changes in his position. In
fact, it has been restated numerous times since _Aspects_ was
written. It is definitely anti-empirical. Though Chomsky may
himself be a rationalist, not all who reject empiricism are to
be classified as rationalists; except perhaps in the narrow sense
of accepting the possession of innate knowledge of universals.

>I avoid it for that reason.

One can avoid the term, but the concept itself seems unavoidable.
It is the basis of the possibility of translation. If one affirms
the possibility of translation, then he also affirms the existence
of a deep structure, call it whatever he will.

Consider a pair of examples given by Katz:

(1a) the doctor's arrival, the arrival of the doctor, ...
(1b) the doctor's house, the house of the doctor, ...

(2a) John is easy to leave
(2b) John is eager to leave

The surface structures of each of these two are identical. But they
possess quite different underlying syntactic structures. Since this
is so obvious, why should one oppose the term "deep structure"?

In Christ,
Jim Beale

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